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It seemed like everyone was fighting when the Stars and Vancouver had their three fights in three seconds last Friday.

"Our team wasn't playing well, and we needed a spark," said winger Eric Nystrom.

But it's still hard to believe a couple of Ivy Leaguers and former teammates at Brown University were involved.

Ryan Garbutt and Aaron Volpatti had the first of the three fights, and actually gave each other black eyes. After the game, they met for dinner with a former college teammate like nothing had happened.

"(A) guy from our team was actually at the game watching," said Garbutt. "He was pretty pumped about the whole thing, too."

Ivy Leaguer or not, that fight shouldn't surprise anyone, because Garbutt has had to fight for everything he has in hockey.

"(He) worked his way up so it's a pretty big story for a guy that's come where he's come to where he's at now," said Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

Garbutt graduated from Brown four years ago with a degree in economics and sociology, so he had options and he chose hockey.

He began his career in the Central Hockey League, and it's very rare for a player from the CHL to end up in the NHL.

"It's not very often," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "We've got two guys like that here right now: Jordie Benn and Ryan Garbutt. So they have to have drive, and they have to have mental toughness, and they obviously need the ability."

"(I) didn't have the best hockey experience at Brown and felt like it was unfinished business there," Garbutt said. "I was driving back with my dad, actually &mdsh; 27 hour drive (from Providence to Winnipeg) and we talked a lot about what I wanted to do after."

Now that he's here, Garbutt will fight to stay in the big leagues literally and figuratively.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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